Senate Continues Funding For Federal Technology Programs

Categories: Press Releases

For Immediate Release
Contact: Shin Inouye, 202.869.0398, inouye@civilrights.org

Washington, D.C. – The Digital Empowerment campaign, today issued the following statement regarding Senate appropriations subcommittee’s decision to fund the two important community technology programs – the Technology Opportunities Program and the Community Technology Centers program — at levels comparable to last year’s amounts, despite the Bush Administration’s recommendation to eliminate these programs in their FY03 budget:

“Today’s actions represent an important victory for those who believe the federal government should continue its strong leadership role in ensuring that all Americans have the technological access and skills needed to benefit from and participate fully in the Information Society,” said Wade Henderson, Executive Director of the Leadership Conference on Civil Rights, the lead sponsor of the Digital Empowerment Campaign. “While the bipartisan support for these programs evidenced by today’s votes is heartening, particularly in a very tight budget year, our campaign to preserve and strengthen the TOP and CTC programs is far from over. The Digital Empowerment Campaign will continue to push the Senate, the House and the Administration to fund these programs at the levels approved today or higher.”

The Senate Labor, Health and Human Services and Education Appropriations Subcommittee, under the leadership of Senators Tom Harkin (D-IA) and Arlen Specter (R-PA), voted to continue funding the CTC program at $32.5 – the same amount it received last year.

The Senate Commerce, Justice, State and the Judiciary Appropriations Subcommittee, under the leadership of Ernest Hollings (D-SC) and Judd Gregg (R-NH), voted to continue funding the Technology Opportunity Program at last year’s level — $15.5 million.

“Today’s votes demonstrate how successful the Digital Empowerment Campaign has been in showing that the TOP and CTC programs invest in more than just technology; they invest in people and communities,” Henderson continued. “Now more than ever, federal leadership is crucial to ensure that urban, rural, and Indian tribal land residents have access to technology and can acquire the high-tech job skills necessary to compete in the 21st Century economy.”

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The Digital Empowerment campaign was launched in mid-June on the steps of the U.S. Capitol, with the bipartisan support of Senators Max Cleland (D-GA), Barbara Mikulski (D-MD) and Olympia J. Snowe (R-ME). Since that time, more 100 organizations have joined the campaign to preserve and strengthen the Technology Opportunities Program (TOP) and the Community Technology Centers program (CTC). Both programs provide matching grants to bring the benefits of technology to underserved communities across the United States. For more information, visit www.DigitalEmpowermet.org.